Recent Events & Articles (Our blog)


  • Many voices, one sound – is your team hitting the right notes with its team-building initiatives?

    Getting clarity on team-building initiatives

    When I speak to a potential client for a team-building program, I ask for details to provide me with context about the environment and culture.  Do people generally get along?  Has there been an influx of new hires lately?  Are there any clashes between the “old guard” and the newer generations?

    Many times, the potential client reaching out only knows they want to offer some type of “team-building,” but they’re not sure what messages that should or could include.  A few years back, I took a course with amazing facilitator Mary Tolena, owner of Rhythm Lift and a Remo-endorsed drum circle facilitator .  Her client intake form includes a great question:  what do you want your participants to think, feel and be ready to do by the end of the session?

    This usually sparks some insightful comments from the potential client.  Often, someone offers that the team includes a lot of people from various backgrounds who simply have challenges getting along with each other.  Maybe there are too many cooks in the kitchen – some who are 62, and some who are 28.

    At this point in the conversation, I’ll expand on how drumming programs help bring people together.  The simple act of everyone playing drums together encourages participants to listen to what each person contributes to the overall sound.  Read on for two other ways drumming can foster an inclusive environment.  Then ask yourself, how is your team doing with its team-building initiatives?

    A symphony of sounds

    In the drum circle, there are many types of drums – from large bass drums to small handheld drums and everything in between.  Also, we often include small percussion like egg shakers, Boomwhackers, bells, and wood blocks.  At some point during the jam session, I’ll usually stop the whole group and highlight one type of instrument, e.g., the shakers.  When the boom-y, bass-y sound of the drums drops out and all you hear are a bunch of little egg shakers, I usually see a few smiles in the group, like, “Wow!  I didn’t even know those guys were playing.”  We show appreciation for each group’s (and person’s) contribution to the rhythm, and in the process, we might hear new rhythms or ideas emerge.

    A metaphor for diversity

    Right, so “diversity” is a generic term that can encompass a lot of smaller and more specific items.  It usually goes hand-in-hand with “inclusion.”  What is your group really saying when it claims those two values?

    Well, “diversity” can refer to race, ethnicity, religion, orientation, age, or a myriad of other categories.  “Inclusion” typically means that a group welcomes all people in these categories and values a variety of thoughts, beliefs, and opinions of its participants.

    Now, under this umbrella is where the drum circle thrives.  In it, we accept everyone as they are and listen to and appreciate their ideas.  Participants can listen to other’s contributions in non-judgmental atmosphere and compare their own thoughts, actions, and decisions.

    Now what?

    How does your team or work environment approach diversity and inclusion?  What specific initiatives or policies does your organization have in place to ensure all voices are heard, valued, and respected?

    And, could your workplace benefit from a tune-up?  Reach out to us today!

     

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  • Diversity, peace, and unity – drumming at the University of North Florida

    Diversity and unity were at the heart of the University of North Florida’s International Day of Peace event on September 21st, 2018.  Here are some activities we focused on for our drumming session.

    Highlight our common ground and diversity

    We started off with a short activity called “Rumble If.”  The facilitator (or a participant) asks a yes or no question.  If the answer is yes, participants rumble (play a drum roll) on their drums.  I always say this is an excellent way for the group to get to know one another and break the ice.  We find out things we have in common and what makes us unique.

    For example, some questions highlighting diversity and inclusion might include:

    • Rumble if you’re originally from Florida
    • Rumble if you were born in another state/country
    • Rumble if you’re a vegetarian
    • Rumble if you have any brothers or sisters
    • Rumble if you’re the oldest/youngest in your family
    • Rumble if you’ve experienced any stress this week
    • Rumble if you’re a Jags (insert city-specific sports team here) fan

    Set intentions

    Next, we did something called Rhythm Naming.  I invited participants to think of a focus word or goal for the session, or for the rest of the day.  They could focus on a word or phrase such as “reducing stress” or “meeting new people.” After deciding on a word, each person played a representation of that word on their drum.

    People chose phrases such as “peace on earth,” “love is a language,” “smile,” and “go away stress!” And, the rhythms they played on the drum to represent those words showed off their creativity.

    The universal heartbeat

    After that, we got into the meat and potatoes of the session – the drum jam.  The jam is the opportunity for participants to really tap into their creative side and also tune into the others in their group.  We encourage everyone to “play whatever you want as long as it makes us sound good!”  We achieve that by listening to others and figuring out how our rhythm fits in with others’.  But first, we started off with a heartbeat – playing the rhythm of our hearts (“lub-dub” or “boom boom”) and gradually adding in other sounds to explore the rhythm further.  Playing this rhythm solidifies the theme of commonality – we’re all human, we all have a heartbeat, no matter who we are or what we believe.

    Pieces of 8

    Finally, this little game allowed us the chance to see how the rhythm changed the more sounds we added to it.  Participants started off by choosing a number between 1 and 8 (everyone chose their own number), and then they played one “boom” every time they heard their number during the counting aloud.  Then, they chose two numbers to play during the 8-number cycle, doubling the sound that we heard.  Afterward, we talked about what it meant to contribute (even in some small way) to the outcome of the whole.

    We ended the session with a “pair and share,” an opportunity to people to partner up and talk about their favorite parts and takeaways.

    Would you like to offer a unifying drum circle to your group or organization?  Get in touch with us!

     

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